Even for those without special needs, music can be therapeutic. Recent research, however, specifically supports the value of music in helping individuals with autism learn. That's why Roberta Scherf, the mom of a child on the spectrum, created MeMoves, along with her partner, Chris Bye. MeMoves is a unique program that pairs music with movement to help calm and focus the minds of children with autism.
Ed. Note: Awe in Autism does not promote any specific products, services, treatments or therapies, and this article is not an endorsement of any of the above. We have chosen to publish this article because we believe it offers broader insight that may be useful to many of our site visitors, and because its emphasis on creativity is consistent with our mission and purpose.
Rowan and her dog
Roberta's daughter Rowan was the inspiration for MeMoves; Roberta describes Rowan as "a child from a different planet; a fragile time traveler who struggled to be understood," adding, "She knew things that we did not, but she couldn't always tell us." Roberta watched as Rowan created beautiful songs and stories, always at a distance from others, in part because she was overwhelmed by the clatter of life around her. Recognizing the calming effect the musical creations had on her daughter, Roberta devoured research papers on music and movement ... and what she learned led her to create MeMoves.
"I believed if I could just find the right key it would unlock the bright and curious little girl I knew was trapped inside." –Roberta Scherf
MeMoves in action
The success of the interactive program, in which individuals, either in groups or alone, move their arms (or fingers if using as an iPad app) to a pattern on a screen that changes with the soothing music, is no surprise. According to the American Music Therapy Association, the connection between music and its ability to enhance mood, attention and positive behavior, all variables that can impact learning, is well documented.
With a successful career in the world of non-profit programming, the arts and public radio, Roberta now devotes all of her time to her family and to promoting MeMoves. The self-regulation tool is used in schools, therapy centers, clinics, and homes around the world.
A high school class of special education students demonstrates MeMoves
"I recently met a talented young artist with autism whose anxiety caused her to constantly look at the ground in order to avoid eye contact,"says Roberta. "Her teacher reported that since she began to use MeMoves last October, she no longer looks at the ground, and she is excited about showing her artwork to others. That's why I do what I do."